Tag Archives: collecting

Californiana: A List for April

The 1848 California Gold Rush represented one of the largest migrations in the history of the Americas. Over 300,000 people flocked to the state, both from elsewhere in North America and from overseas. The population swelled; San Francisco, for example, went from a sleepy town of 200 in 1846, to a bustling port city of over 30,000 in 1852. Meanwhile California would not officially become a state until September 9, 1850, following much heated debate from Congress.

Given the state’s rich history, it’s no wonder that California invites so much fascination from book collectors. The Book Club of California, founded in 1912, published over 100 works, most with some collection to the state. Its first publication was indeed California-centric: Robert Cowan’s A Bibliography of the History of California and the Pacific West (1914, with a second edition in 1933). Robert Greenwood was integral to the publication of two other bibliographies, California Imprints, 1833-1862 and An Annotated Bibliography of California Fictions, 1664-1970, published in 1961 and 1971 respectively. Numerous others come to mind, but we’d be remiss not to mention Gary Kurutz’ The California Gold Rush: A Descriptive Bibliography, 1848-1953. Published in 1997, this is a work of truly enviable scholarship. No other state seems to have garnered so much bibliographic attention.

With this in mind, Tavistock Books presents a list of Californiana, with 100 items related to this state anchoring the “left coast.” While the list has many titles that will cite the bibliographies noted above, this isn’t the list focus. Rather, the list offers printed and visual evidence that California is indeed a state that has long fascinated not only book collectors, but the American populace in general.

Items on the list range from the eighteenth to the 21st century. While many are historical in nature, you’ll also find original art, promotional travel pieces, the first California-published miniature, California fiction, and even on of the first California cookbooks. Prices range from $15 to $3,250.

We invite you to browse the entire list! Should you have queries regarding any of the listings, or other offerings you may find on our site, please contact us.

Selected Californiana

Discovery of California and Northwest America
Cabrillo_First_Voyage_Coasts_CaliforniaJuan Rodriguez Cabrillo and his pilot, Bartolome Ferrelo reached what is now San Diego in September, 1540. Cabrillo explored the entire outer coast of the peninsula before heading north to the Channel Islands, Monterey Bay, and Point Reyes. Published in San Francisco in 1853, Discovery of California and Northwest America was the first true work of California history to be published in California. This volume has early marbled paper wrappers (recently added) with a printed title label affixed to the front wrapper. It’s chemised and housed in a custom quarter-leather slipcase. Details>>

A Trans-Continental Newspaper
Trans-Continental_PullmanTranscontinental was “Published Daily in the Pullman Hotel Express between Boston and San Francisco.” The twelve issues of Volume I were printed over six weeks, from May 24 to July 4, 1870, while the Boston Board of Trade made the 3,000-mile trek to meet with the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. They were printed on a Gordon Press in the baggage car, while the newspaper office was in the second car. The paper reported the normal business of the train, along with tidbits such as the Philadelphia Athletics’ victory over the Harvard Baseball Club. The Trans-Continental is generally regarded as the first newspaper printed on a moving train. Details>>

Business Directory of Oakland, Alameda, and Berkeley
Directory_Oakland_Alameda_BerkeleyPublished in Oakland in 1877, Business Directory of Oakland, Alameda, and Berkeley is not listed in either Norris or Welsh. Extremely rare, this California miniature has the distinction of being the “only known California directory in this format, the first East Bay directory, and the first Berkeley directory of any kind,” according to Quebedeaux, who calls this volume the “first California volume of any kind.” Bradbury refutes this claim, pointing out that Diamond History was also published in 1877 and comprises the latter portion of this volume. OCLC records only three institutional holdings, and there is only one sale record for this item, from PBA earlier this year, of an imperfect copy missing its title page. Details>>

California Recipe Book by Ladies of California
California_Recipe_BookThe first edition thus and the fourth edition overall, this copy of California Recipe Book was published in San Francisco in 1879. It was first issued in 1872. The fourth edition bears a note that the “compiler has added largely to the original edition, and our patrons will find many new and choice recipes.” Indeed, the fourth edition includes sixty recipes not found in the first. OCLC records only three institutional holdings, making this a very scarce edition of a seminal California cookery book. California Recipe Book is regarded as the second cookbook written by Californians and published in the state, vying for the title with How to Keep a Husband; Or, Culinary Tactics, also published in San Francisco in 1872. Details>>

Annual Report of the Inspectors of the State Prison
San_Quentin_Annual_Report_Inspectors_State_PrisonMade to the legislature of California on February 15, 1855, this report offers an interesting look at the early days of San Quentin, when the prison was not quite impregnable. It includes sections entitled “Register and Descriptive List of Convicts Under Sentence” and “Transcript of Received, Escaped, and Returned Prisoners Since the Inspection of State Prison Books.” The previous year, 75 of the 250 prisoners in San Quentin had escaped without recapture. The statistic alarmed Governor John Bigler, to write in a letter to the prison staff, “These escapes, permit me to remark, give great force to allegations, daily and publicly made, that the prison building is insecure, and that its management is not such as to fully accomplish the object of its erection, in prevention and punishment of crime.” This work is rare, not being listed in Cowan, Greenwood, or the Library of Congress online catalogue. OCLC and Melvyl record only one copy, and no copies have come to auction in at least 25 years. Details>>

Twelve Years in the Mines of California
Patterson_Twelve_Years_Mines_CaliforniaLawson B Patterson arrived in California in 1849 during the Gold Rush and was one of the few who stuck around after the rush ended. Patterson stayed to work the mines for a total of twelve years. Kurutz tells us that in addition to recounting Patterson’s own experiences, “much of this book is devoted to the discovery of gold, the gold region, its geology, advice to new miners, and the weather in 1853. Wheat goes a step further, saying that Patterson’s book contains “observations of permanent import.” This volume’s previous owners include JR Knowland of Oakland Tribune fame, and the ffep bears his PO signature. The book itself is square and tight, with bright gilt. Details>>

Banquet in Honor of the Hotel Men’s Mutual Benefit Association
Banquet_HMMBAThis 1910 West Coast journey of HMMBA members was well documented by George Wharton James in his commissioned work, “The 1910 TRIP Of The H.M.M.B.A. To CALIFORNIA And The PACIFIC COAST.” Herein, he remarks this dinner at the Palace was “the most unique and costly dinner ever devised for the HMMBA.” The hotel’s banquet room was presented as a “Mandarin garden decorated with a wealth of Chinese articles of art [loaned by the Sing Chow Co. the menu informs us], and enlivened with … the only Chinese actress in America .. a Chinese theatre and thirty pretty Chinese children with their mothers, a full Chinese orchestra, and a bill of fare as distinctively Chinese as the rest of the function, all aided and abetted by the wealthy Chinese merchants of San Francisco.” As to this souvenir menu, James praises it as “the most elaborate affair ever devised fro the association.” No copy of this item is listed in OCLC; it’s certainly rare. Details>>

Album of Hotel Del Monte
Hotel_Del_MonteHotel Del Monte was part of a luxury 20,000-acre resort established by railroad magnate Charles Crocker. The first hotel was completed in 1880, with the entire resort including the hotel, polo grounds, race track, tennis courts, parkland and golf course. Immediately popular, the hotel had to deny 3,000 potential guests its first six weeks of operation. Falling on hard times after WWI, the grounds were eventually sold to Samuel Morse, who eventually led to the development of the present day Pebble Beach facility, among others. The hotel itself now serves as an administration building for the Naval Postgraduate School. This album offers a rare photo-view book depicting the original hotel structure (destroyed by fire in 1887) and diverse associated resort grounds and buildings. Details>>

Browny the Golden Beaver
Browny_Golden_BeaverA rare WPA production, Browny the Golden Beaver was published in San Diego in 1938. Belle Baranceanu, who created the cover art, was to achieve some fame as an artist; she painted murals in the La Jolla Post Office and Roosevelt Jr. High School as part of the Public Works of Art Project during the Depression. Baranceanu’s work has been exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago, Carnegie Institute, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Denver Art Musuem, among other locations. The book was illustrated with drawings by Beatrice Buckley. Details>>


Related Posts:
The California Gold Rush, Slavery, and the Civil War
Elias Samuel Cooper: Renowned and Controversial Surgeon


Thanks for reading! Love our blog? Subscribe via email (right sidebar) or sign up for our newsletter--you’ll never miss a post.


Au Paris: Food, Wine, and Rare Books!

This month marked the 100th anniversary of Syndicat Nationale de la Librairie Ancienne et Moderne, better known to the rare book world as SLAM. In conjunction with this momentous occasion, SLAM not only hosted the International Antiquarian Book Fair at Paris’ Grand Palais but also followed this by coordinating the 2014 ILAB Congress, April 13 to 16, whereat over 100 colleagues from around the globe gathered to celebrate not only their vocation, but also their avocation. Both the book fair and the Congress were fantastic events where numerous bibliophilic treasures were seen by all that attended. These bookish wonders aside, the collegiality alone would have made the trip worthwhile–though the exceptional food and wine cannot be discounted!

In honor of our Parisian adventure, Tavistock Books is pleased to present a list of books connected to France and French. Should you have a question about any item, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Voyage en Californie par Edouard Auger

Auger_Voyage_CalifornieEdouard Auger spent 1852 and 1853 in California for the Gold Rush. This first edition, published by Librarie Hachette in 1854, is inscribed by the author on the title page. It has a modern green quarter calf binding with marbled paper boards and endpapers. The original green printed wrappers are bound in. Details>>

Jeanne d’Arc

Monvel_Jeanne_DArcMaurice Boutet de Monvel published Jeanne d’Arc in 1896. It is his masterpiece, and Silvie calls the work “beautifully printed and exquisitely composed” in Children’s Books and Their Creators. Monvel is considered a leading figure in the Golden Age of children’s literature, alongside Caldecott and Greenaway. It is quite rare to find the book in its original dust jacket, as it is offered here. Details>>

Geschichte der Grossen Revolution en Frankreich

Schultz_Geschichte_Grossen_Revolution_FrankreichPublished in Berlin in 1790, this edition of Geschichte der Grossen Revolution en Frankreich features a hand-colored frontispiece and has the period dark brown plain paper wrappers. There’s a hand-inked title label to the spine. Details>>

Splendide Californie!

Splendide_CaliforniePublished by the Book Club of California in 2001, Splendide Californie! is truly a stunning item. It features impressions of the Golden State from French artists, ranging from 1786 to 1900. The book was designed and supervised by the Yolla Bolly Press. Details>>

Traite de la Gonorrhee et des Maladies des Voies Urinaires

TeyaudSexually transmitted diseases proved formidable opponents to medical professionals in the eighteenth century. Teyaud’s Traite de la Gonorrhee et des Maladies des Voies Urinaires offers a look at how these conditions were treated at the end of the century. Paris would later become a center for medical study, and American doctors frequently went there to study. Details>>

Theatre des Dames

Theatre_des_DamesA compilation of diverse theatrical pieces from 1792 to 1815, Theatre des Dames is bound in beautiful color printed silk onlays affixed to gold boards, with a floral motif panel on the spine. It includes eight copperplate engravings. OCLC records only four copies worldwide, and KVC adds a fifth. Details>>

Almanach de Kate Greenaway

Almanach_Kate_GreenawayA scarce French edition of this popular publication Almanach de Kate Greenaway was published in 1891. It features white glazed paper-wrapped color-pictorial boards with a yellow cloth spine. Color illustrations are by Kate Greenaway, printed by Edmund Evans. KVK shows no holdings at the expected institutions, and OCLC records only two holdings in the US. Details>>

Des Guerres d’Alexandre

Arrian_Guerres_AlexandreArrian was a public servant, military commander, and philosopher from the second-century Roman period. His account of Alexander’s life is arguably the most complete and most widely read, likely because he was able to use sources that have since been lost. This 1652 edition (the second edition thus) appears to be rather scarce; OCLC records one copy in Germany, and KVK notes another at the Bibliotheque Nationale. Details>>



A Panoply of Primers

For centuries, children’s literature consisted almost exclusively of didactic texts designed to teach basic skills like reading and writing or to impart religious lessons. During the Middle Ages, the vast majority of these texts were still written in Latin. Hornbooks with the Lord’s Prayer and the alphabet were the most common forms of children’s literature in the 1400’s, and alphabet books began showing up in Russia, Denmark, and Italy during the following century.

In the 1600’s, the concept of childhood shifted: children were no longer thought of as miniature adults, but as separate beings with their own juvenile needs and preferences. Publishers began printing books exclusively for children, though these, too, were often didactic. The seventeenth century also saw the rise of Puritanism, which again shaped people’s views of children. They were viewed not as young innocents, but as moral savages who needed stringent moral instruction.

It was not until the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that children’s literature came into its own as a genre. A Little Pretty Pocket Book (1744) by John Newbery is considered the first book published for children’s pleasure reading. As technologies improved and it got cheaper to produce books, the industry blossomed. Even as pleasure reading became popular, the publication of educational materials maintained its momentum. Literacy rates began to improve, increasing the demand for, and interest in, primers and similar educational pieces.

Today, collectors can build quite extensive collections around educational materials printed for children. The broadest category of these is the primer. The first known use of the word “primer” was in the fourteenth century. The term derives from the Latin primarium, meaning “primary,” and was the name for a layperson’s prayerbook. At the time, literacy was relatively uncommon, but people did need to read their prayers. This book was often the only one in a home, so it was used to teach children to read. Eventually the term broadened and referred to any small book intended to teach reading. Today a “primer” may refer to a short, introductory piece about a specific topic or to a brief, informative piece of writing.

A Selection of Primers

We’re delighted to offer a selection of primers in a variety of subjects and time periods. Should you have a question about an item, please don’t hesitate to contact us!

The London Vocabulary

Greenwood_London_VocabularyGrammarian James Greenwood published the first edition of The London Vocabularly, English and Latin in 1713. After working for years at the Hackney Academy, Greenwood opened up his own boarding school in Essex in 1711 and was later appointed surmaster of St. Paul’s School in London. He’s best known for his An Essay on Practical Grammar (1711), which received much positive praise from a number of scholars and critics, including Isaac Watts.  The London Vocabulary went through a number of editions, both English and American, of which this is the seventeenth English edition. Details>>

The Instructor

Fisher_InstructorA quite popular primer, George Fisher’sThe Instructor  appeared in numerous editions, both throughout the United Kingdom and in America. Like many educational books at the time, it purportedly offered an easier method of learning than other primers. And also like many educational books at the time, it reminds us of just how little people really knew about geography at the time, and that this truly was an age of exploration and discovery. In this Glasgow edition, printed in 1786, California is still an enigma: “Northward, on the Pacific Ocean, is New Mexico, and the island of California; but of these we know but little.” ESTC records five holdings of this edition. Details>>

The Young Child’s ABC

Anderson_Young_Childs_ABCWritten by Alexander Anderson and illustrated by Samuel Wood, The Young Child’s ABC (1806) contains a horn book-style alphabet and a syllabary. Letters are illustrated with objects in alphabetical order. This children’s chapbook was the first item published by Wood, who would go on to have an illustrious and prolific career in the trade. He had thousands of titles under his imprint. Although four copies of later editions have come to auction in the last three decades or so, none of this first edition have come to market. It’s quite rare in the trade. Details>>

A Book Explaining the Ranks and Dignities of British Society

Lamb_Ranks_Dignities_British_SocietyCharles Lamb is best remembered for his collaboration with his sister, Mary Lamb, on Tales from Shakespeare. But he also anonymously published A Book Explaining the Ranks and Dignities of British Society in 1805. The charmingly illustrated children’s book delineates the hierarchy of the nobility, clergy, army, navy, government & professions; with their history & origins, forms of address, order of precedence, honors, with their coronets & coronation robes described, etc.This is the second edition, published in 1809. The book has been occasionally at auction these last 30+ years, though not since 2003. It’s scarce in the trade. Details>>

Le Livre des Enfans

Livre_EnfansLe Livre des Enfans was published in Quebec in 1834. Illustrated with woodcuts, the work begins with two alphabets, which are followed by the usual primer material. The cover features a short verse by Racine. Le Livre des Enfans also includes thirteen pages of animal descriptions, such as Le Zebre, Le Cheval, and Le Hibou. It’s scarce in the trade. Details>>

The New England Primer

Howland_New_England_PrimerPublished around 1840, The New England Primer bears quite a drop title: Containing the Assembly’s Catechism; The Account of the Burning of John Rogers; A Dialogue Between Christ, A Youth, and the Devil; and Various Other Useful and Instructive Matter. With a Historical Introduction, by Rev. H. Humphrey, D.D. Rogers was a biblical translator and commentator, and the first English Protestant martyr under Mary I. He was burned at the stake for heresy in February 1555. This primer bears a frontis of Isaac Watts. Though this copy has some wear to its wrappers, it’s in good condition. Details>>

Girls’ and Boys’ Primer, Part II

Girls_Boys_PrimerGirls’ and Boys’ Primer, Part II was published around 1850 by Rufus Merrill in Concord, New Hampshire. The alphabet is illustrated with woodcuts. The primer features the usual material: alphabet, poems, and lessons in spelling and writing. This copy is in the publisher’s original buff paper wrappers with ornamental border to front and rear wrappers and the signature of “Eastman & Bogart.” Though there’s light wear and soiling to the wrappers, this is a very good copy. Details>>

A Farewell Present to a Female Scholar, on Going to Service

Farewell_Present_Female_ScholarsThanks to the Enabling Act of 1799, dissenters could teach without subscription to the Church of England. The London Sunday-School Union was formed in 1803 with the aim of educating poor children and became a very active publishing organization. One of its publications was A Farewell Present to a Female Scholar, on Going to Service (ca 1828). An apparently unrecorded little work, it offers counseling a young lady regarding her pending move to the world of ‘service,’ “a useful and important station in society ” and  outlines a number of ‘rules to live by’ follow, including “Fifthly- Always observe a respectful and obliging behaviour towards those with whom you live, and endeavor to go about your work with a cheerful air, as a pleasure rather than a burden to you.” It appears to have served as a sort of primer for young women entering domestic service. Details>>

Fleet Fact Book

Fleet_Fact_BookFleet Fact Book (ca 1906-1910) is separated into four sections: The “Dreadnaught” (2 text pages & 1 photographic image); Submarines (1 text page & 5 photographic images); Torpedo Boat Destroyers (1 text page & 2 photographic images); and The Fleet / Dreadnaught Types (1 text page summarizing the fleet strength, including ship types/numbers & 5 color postcard-type images of diverse dreadnaught types). In short, the volume offers a custom ‘primer’ for the Royal English Navy, ca 1910, with all indications the book created for the use of a senior Naval official, or senior political figure associated with the Royal Navy. Details>>

Puff and Dick

Puff_DickPictured are the main characters from this famous primary reader: Dick, Jane, Spot, Puff & Baby. This is a rare unused printed sheet of a tale from the highly-collected Dick & Jane reader series, published in the 1950’s. Details>>



Related Posts:
Chapbooks: Short Books with Long History
The Ins and Outs of Collecting Serial Fiction for Children
Randolph Caldecott: Legend in Children’s Literature


Thanks for reading! Love our blog? Subscribe via email (right sidebar) or sign up for our newsletter--you’ll never miss a post.


Select Acquisitions: In Manuscript

Manuscript. “A work written by hand” informs Glaister, synonymous with “holograph.” Or, as is often abbreviated, Ms.

A two-letter abbreviation that can cause the collector’s heart to flutter; the curator’s eye to gleam; the author to despair of ever finishing.

Why this reaction? Is it the unique aspect inherent to the term? A printed book, by its very nature and concept, can be expected to be encountered in multiple copies; not so the manuscript that gave rise to the book. It is, more often than not, expected to be found in no more than one copy, with additional the variant, not the norm.

With this in mind then, Tavistock Books presents our list for March, In Manuscript. It consists of thirty items all created “by hand”: letters, book manuscripts, ledgers, journals, diaries, sketch books,a nd even a few pencil sketches [to round out the numbers].

Temporally, the items range from the 17th century to the 20th. As is our custom and wont, subjects represented are diverse, from rent records, to transatlantic travel, to baseball. Prices range from $125 to $20,000.

We invite you to peruse the list! Should you have any inquiries, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We thank you for your attention, and we hope that you find something of interest while browsing these offerings.

If you’d like to receive email notification of our select acquisitions lists and other bookish news, please sign up for our email newsletter.

Featured Items in Manuscript

Rhode Island Light Infantry Company Records, 1818-1873

The Rhode Island First Light Infantry Company was formed in 1818 as a state militia company based in Providence, Rhode Island, and was affiliated with the Second Regiment of the Rhode Island militia. It became the First Light Infantry Regiment in 1863. This regiment saw no active duty, with its activities more iRhode_Island_Light_Infantryn consonance with a social club vice a well-trained military unit. However, per the RIHS notes on this organization, the 1st Light Infantry Company did play an important role in providing trained soldiers when circumstances required. The Company helped suppress the Olney’s Lane race riots in 1831, primarily by arresting white rioters.

The Company was also involved in suppressing the Dorr Rebellion, a fomentation and later a short-lived, armed insurrection led by Thomas Wilson Dorr agitating for changes to Rhode Island’s electoral system. In the case of this particular Rebellion, there were militia members on both sides of the fight! Pages 61 through 66 of Volume 2 discuss the events of May 19th, 1842. Many of the Company members also served in the American Civil War in Companies C and D of the First Regiment, Rhode Island Detached Militia.

The activities recorded herein, written in pen and by necessity by many different individuals given the span of time involved, are detailed and informative accounts of the daily, weekly, and monthly meetings of the Company, most often held at the Armory in Providence. Together, these four volumes are the primary source for the history of the First Light Infantry Company, and are invaluable for understanding the inner workings of the Company and their [occasionally] significant role in Rhode Island history. Details>>

Journal Across the Atlantic

“On Board the Eagle from London to / Philadelphia. / John Ker Captain – Born in Ireland.” So begins this interesting diary recorded by an unidentified male passenger making a transatlantic voyage on this ship. The first written page of the journal records the significant personages of the crew, including their nationality, from Captain Ker to “Sam A Sailor Born in America” and “George. The Cook A Black from Bengall”. Passenger names are noted: four in the passenger cabin, with five more in steerage.

The diary records shipboard life, almost daily, for the next two months, beginning with leaving London for Gravesend, and like many passengers, “On Entering the downs I began to be Sick in the afternoon… … Journal_Across_AtlanticFraser sitting upon the Binacle going down to the Steerage over the Sailors asleep Read with an audible voice a Chapter or two out of the word of God as so unusual affair disturbed the men below who arose in a passion and an uproar ensued whitch Occationed the Interference of the Captain — and where is the wonder! … Saw a Grampus (?) Whale along side of us very near this day and he made his appearances several times as he passed from us. June 20 – 1785. Monday. Saw a sail at a distance. … Tuesday 21 … saw a sail ahead of us.”The ship was Spanish, and the diarist continues with a description of an at-sea meeting between the two vessels.

The diarist continues in such a vein, recording passenger activity – “Fraser and Mark Denison play at Cards until Dark” – and observing crew interaction – “The mate then thought his dignity insulted…” In late July, another vessel rendezvous is recorded .. “They offered us some oranges and fruit…” By this time, the tone of the journal has tended towards patience, with food [“potatoes gone”] and water [“… drink dirty Water”] becoming an issue…. “But I keep as much an Equanimity as possible and more I Flatter myself than any on Board.”

The last entry of the journal is “Saturday morn July 30th”. “A many moths or Small Butterflies came on board – a dispute whether they Bred on board – Cox [steerage passenger] maintains the affirmative but they were never seen coming with the wind it was thought very improbably and tho he supported his theory [?] only it is Carried against him – …” So ends this record of a transatlantic voyage… an illuminating peek into a passenger’s shipboard life while en route the New World. Original mss journals such as this are rare in commerce. Details>>

Autograph Letter Signed with Steel Plate Engraving of Charles Dickens and Photograph of Gadshill

This delightful Dickensiana is matted and framed in a simple black, wooden frame. The label on the frame’s reverse appears to be pre-World War II. Charles Dickens, writing to an unknown correspondent, tells of of his son Charley’s stay and schooling in Germany, with one Professor Muller who supervised “the classical part of his studies.” Dickens continues, “I was in all respects well satisfied,” though Charley “considered him ‘a Dragon in respect of his ardour for work.'” This letter is partially published by Storey & Tillotson in Volume 8 [p. 206] of the Pilgrim Letters, with their abbreviated text coming from a 1901 Walter M Hill catalogue. The actual letter, here offered, has a concluding five-line paragraph not previously recorded. Details>>


Amergin the White Stag

Sven Berlin was a poet, a painter, a sculptor, a dancer and a writer. His 1962 roman-a-clef novel The Dark Monarch was written with the prime motive of venting his anger over the hypocrisies of an over-close and competitive art St. Ives art colony. It was not well received by his fellow art colony members, who all too Amergin_White_Stageasily recognized themselves within the pages. The book was withdrawn after four successful libel actions.

Contrary to what some writers report, Berlin did not abandon the genre of fiction following the unpleasantness that The Dark Monarch brought. In 1964 he published his novel Jonah’s Dream: A Meditation on Fishing, a volume full of Berlin’s accomplished and sensitive vignettes of fish and fishermen, and in 1971, his knowledge of the gypsy counter-culture emerged in his novel Dromengo: Man of the Road. It would be a full seven years before Amergin appeared. The story is a mystical fable of encounters between a man, a woman, and a stag in “The Great Forest in the South.”

Many of Berlin’s publications drew upon personal experience. Berlin was part of the D-Day invasions of World War II, having rejected his former stance of conscientious objector, but the experience led to a breakdown and he returned to Cornwall to find restitution through his art. From that time on, the redemptive, restorative and spiritual power of art and nature would remain his guiding principle. The same theme runs through his works, including the two volumes of his ‘autosvenography’: The Coat of Many Colours and Virgo in Exile, that being a belief in the abstract and mystical forces that guide both nature and humankind. His writing is rich in imagery and metaphor, exhibiting an often dream-like quality. This manuscript is no exception. Details>>

Somerset Mss Rent Book, 1690-1755

Apparently this volume was originally intended and begun as a medical text, to be comprised of thirteen volumes, or chapters. Pages [i-iv] contain the index for the medical entries, in Latin. The pages, corresponding to the entry in the index, are captioned with the appropriate heading. Turning the volume over and beginning with the final unnumbered page and working back to page 457, the text is comprised of accounting entries of amounts paid for things such as bread for orphans, for scavenger, stocker, water, and the parson. There are entries for the window tax, poor tax, the king’s tax for the land lord, lamps, etc.


 The year is divided into four quarters: Lady Day Quarter, Midsomer (midsummer) Quarter, Michaelmass Quarter, and Xmass Quarter. The entries in these ten pages are the earliest, dating from 1690 to 1708, and provide a fascinating glimpse into the economy and financial obligations of the citizenry of this time.The volume is then turned over again and the entries pick up at page [v] continuing to page 115 with entries for rents and mortgages collected in the parish of Norton Fitzwarren, Taunton district, Somerset, England.

While many entries are written in the first person — “Then I rec’d the first rent myself” — the identity of the individual or individuals making the entries is not recorded. The financial entries for 1720 on appear to be by a different individual than those of 1690 through 1709.The text as a whole provides a fascinating glimpse into the economy and financial obligations of the citizenry of Norton Fitzwarren, providing important and valuable information as to the cost of living at the end of the seventeenth century to the mid-point of the eighteenth century in one English parish. Many of the same names appear for the 65 recorded years of rents and mortgages, and by consulting parish records one can see the relationships between the citizens through marriages; the life cycle of the parish through births and deaths. Details>>

Robert H Barton Family Correspondence Collection, 1849-1871

Robert Barton, of Providence, Rhode Island, left his wife Julia Anna Bennett Barton and four children –William, Emily, Harriet, and Julia–in the winter of 1849, headed for the California gold fields. The collection begins with Robert’s departure in 1849, and continues through 1871. Of the 72 letters, six are from Robert –one to his wife, and five to his son. The remainder are to Robert, from divers family members, and even his pastor, all with the common theme of “come home.”

From this correspondence, and the fact Robert Barton is not buried with the rest of his family in the North Burial Ground, Providence, Rhode Island, it is questioned whether the man ever did leave California and return to Providence 9even though the RI census notes his presence). Robert writes to his wife of his good intentions for heading to California, and consistently states “if he is permitted to return home “; however, it is fairly clear that he never intended to do so. In one letter to his son, he says that William should look to a gentleman there in Providence for advice and guidance, discourages him from coming to California, etc.



And while Robert’s letters contain a smattering of comments on his efforts to find gold, and the account statement from Gregory & Waite Groceries & Provisions gives a glimpse into the daily fare of a ’49er, this collection’s value lies elsewhere than California. The collection does extensively chronicle the history of one Providence, Rhode Island family, their struggles and successes. Herein then lies the richness of the archive, which documents the life of this Providence family, after the “man of the house” succumbs to gold fever. Details>>

The Album of Sarah Knight

To S. K. —“Deign to accept the boon tis all I ask/And if thou think’st I fall too far behind/Let abler pens hereafter meet the task/And yield thee something suited to thy mind.” From our study of this splendid little volume, it would appear to have been used similar to an autograph album wherein friends would pen a Album_Sarah_Knightpoem, or a snippet from such for the owner. Some of the poems may have been copied by the owner into the album. Several of the entries have been illustrated in watercolor or thinned black ink, by an accomplished hand. The writing is in almost all cases very legible, and penned by those who had obviously received high marks for penmanship.

From the entries we have gleaned that this volume was owned by at least three individuals: Sarah Knight, T. M. Knight, and M.S. Conard, with the latest entry (1860) being penned by Conard. In conducting research, we can find several women named Sarah Knight who lived in Philadelphia and New York. We can also find a G. Coggshall (the presenter of the album), a Sophia Mix, and an Arabella Clark–all names given in the volume–living in either Philadelphia or New York at the same time, but without more to go on, we cannot pinpoint with any certainty the exact identity of these individuals. There was a Sarah Knight, of Philadelphia, who was born around 1804, which would have made her around 21 when this volume was given to her, which would seem fitting. The poems herein are typical for the 1820’s, and the illustrations are exquisite. It’s quite a lovely little example of early 19th Century autograph/ friendship books. Details>>


Related Reading:
A Look Back at Long-Lost Manuscripts
Preserving Antiquarian Photographs and Photo Albums
Collecting Antiquarian Diaries, Journals, and Correspondence

Thanks for reading! Love our blog? Subscribe via email (right sidebar) or sign up for our newsletter--you’ll never miss a post.


A Collection of Confederate Literature

On March 11, 1861, delegates from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Texas gathered in Montgomery, Alabama. Their purpose: to ratify the Constitution of the Confederate States of America. The document was–not unsurprisingly–similar to the US Constitution, even using some of the same language.

But the Confederate Constitution gave the states much more autonomy and power than the central government. For example, while a presidential item veto existed, states had to consent to the use of any funds or resources by the federal government. The Confederate Constitution also set six-year terms for the president and the vice presidents, and precluded the president from serving two consecutive terms. And slavery was “recognized and protected” in all slave states and territories, while foreign slave trade remained illegal.

Both France and Great Britain considered entering the fray on the side of the Confederates. But they never acknowledged the Confederate States of America as its own independent, autonomous entity, and the Confederate States crumbled in April 1865.

A Selection of Confederate Literature

For collectors of Americana, the Civil War is a perennially popular area of focus. Within that specialization, the depth and breadth of material available makes it possible to further specialize in a sub-section of Civil War literature. The works and records of the Confederacy offer a fascinating, enlightening, and sobering look into one of the bloodiest periods in American history. Even this sub-specialty has incredible scope, stretching to include works written both before and long after the war itself.

The Italian Bride

Levy-Italian_brideSamuel Yates Levy wrote this play in honor of Eliza Logan and had it printed for private distribution in 1856. Logan was a popular actress in the mid-nineteenth century, and her father, Cornelius Logan, acted as her manager until his death in 1853. Though Logan was born in Philadelphia, she made her name in the antebellum South, with many lucrative engagements in cities like Savannah. Meanwhile, Levy would go on to become a Confederate officer during the Civil War, slightly unusual because he was Jewish. Research indicates that this volume’s recipient was a fellow officer from Georgia. Details>> 

Great Expectations

Dickens_Great_Expectations_Confederate_EditionDickens’ first visit to America ended less than well. The legendary author returned to Britain and published two American Notes, which criticized the United States, most notably for permitting the institution of slavery. (He further alienated American readers with Martin Chuzzlewit.) Dickens’ strong opposition to slavery and his keen sensitivity to social injustice made him an unlikely ally of the Confederacy. But after a close reading of James Spence, who was not only a writer for the London Times, but also a pro-South merchant, Dickens revised his opinion. In All the Year Round, he spoke out in defense of the South on the subject of the Morrill Tariff, noting that the ariff had “severed the last threads that bound the North and South together.” This first Confederate edition of Great Expectations is exceedingly rare in the trade, with no copies having come to auction in the past thirty years. Details>>

Carrie Bell

Carrie_BellCaptain MC Capers wrote the lyrics to the Confederate tune “Carrie Bell,” while T. Von La Hache composed the musical accompaniment. Capers was formerly of the “Macon Volunteers” and had also participated in the Indian Wars in Florida (1836). During the Civil War, Capers was in command of Company G, 1st LA Heavy Artillery Regiment of the CSA. In July 1863, he was promoted to major, seeing service at Vicksburg and elsewhere in the South. Details>>

A Legal View of the Seizure of Messrs Mason and Slidell

Legal_View_Seizure_Mason_SlidellThough this pamphlet was published under the pseudonym “Pro Lege,” it’s thought to be the work of Virginia statesman Francis Rives. He delves into the issues regarding seizure at sea during the US Civil War. The matter came the the forefront when Captain Wilkes, acting on his own cognizance, boarded the British vessel Trent and took two individuals, Mason and Slidell, captive. The two were acting as Confederate diplomats. Wilkes’ bold move was locally applauded, but the British were indignant and on the verge of entering the war against the Union forces. Seward released the two gentlemen and told the British that Wilkes had erred and acted without proper authority. Published in 1861, this pamphlet looks at the diverse international maritime legal issues and the ramifications of Wilkes’ act. Details>>

General Orders No 30

General_Orders_No_30Containing “An Act to Organize Bands of Partizan (sic) Raiders” and “An Act to Further Provide for the Public Defence,” this document was published in April 1862 by the Confederate War Department. It authorized the president “to call out and place in the military serve of the Confederate States, for three years, unless the war shall have been sooner ended, all white men who are residents of the Confederate State, between the ages of 18 and 35 years old.” Details>>

Life of General Stand Watie

Life_General_Stand_WatieThe only Indian brigadier in the Confederate Army and the last Confederate general to surrender, Stand Watie was no stranger to conflict. Long before the war, Watie and his brother, Elias Boudinot, had published the Cherokee Phoenix. Watie also acted as a signatory to the 1835 Treaty of New Echota, which called for the removal of the Cherokee people from Georgia to “Indian Territory” (which eventually became Oklahoma). During the Civil War, Watie consistently distinguished himself in battle, refusing to surrender until June 23, 1865. His grandniece wrote the biography Life of General Stand Watie. The first edition is rare in the trade; only one other copy has come to market in the last fifteen years. Details>>

The Princess of the Moon: A Confederate Fairy Story

Princess_Moon“‘I am the Fairy of the Moon,’ said she, ‘and having witnessed your grief I desire to serve you. What would you have?'”

The Princess of the Moon is a relatively scarce juvenile with strong fantasy elements. The bias of the author, Cora Semmes Ives, is obvious, and she clearly wanted the Civil War to end differently. Published in 1869, this volume illustrates that Confederate sympathies certainly didn’t dissolve with the Confederacy. OCLC records three institutional holdings, though we found a few additional ones. Details>>

John Brown and Wm. Mahone

John_Brown_William_MahoneWritten by George W Bagby in 1880, this pamphlet’s half-title is “An Historical Parallel, Foreshadowing Civil Trouble.” The political tract, anti-Grant and anti-Malone, was issued during Malone’s 1880 run for US Senator for Virginia. Bagby proposes an odd connection among Grant, Mahone, and Confederate guerilla John S Mosby. He also predicts a civil war worse than that of the early 1860’s. “Miserable South!…despised by all the world, and for no crime but that you Christianized a race of savages thrust upon you by mercantile greed–how sad is your fate!” Details>>

The James Boys in Arkansas; or, After Confederate Gold

James_Boys_JayHawkers_Confederate_GoldThe concept of Confederate plunder was a popular one that survived the end of the Civil War. It inspired this 1895 dime novel, which plays on the notion that Confederate rebels had hoarded ill-gotten wealth. According to Bragin’s Dime Novels Bibliography, author Frank Tousey “practically revolutionized the dime novel field…[and here in the Detective Library was] the finest James Boys stories. The second title proves but a teaser, comprising only three pages of text and informing readers that the entire tale can be found in Issue No. 671. This is considered a scarce title of outlaw fiction; OCLC records only one institutional holding. Details>>


The Ins and Outs of Collecting Serial Fiction for Children

By the 1890’s, dime novels were all the rage. They sold millions of copies each year. Teens and young adults were hardly immune to the allure of the often sensational stories. An ambitious author, Edward Stratemeyer saw an opportunity in publishing inexpensive novels especially for children and young adults. Stratemeyer had been around the publishing industry for years as both an author and an editor. He’d printed his first story at only fourteen years old, and was devoted to the industry from that moment on.

Judy_Bolton_Ghost_ParadeIn 1898, Stratemeyer got his big break: famous author Horatio Alger, Jr was ailing. Alger had already penned more than one hundred novels for boys, but he had a number of unfinished manuscripts. He invited Stratemeyer to complete one of the novels. Stratemeyer went a step further, negotiating for the copyright to four unpublished manuscripts, which he published under Alger’s name.

Stratemeyer published The Rover Boys at School in 1899 under the pseudonym Arthur Winfield. The book was so successful, it became the first of a thirty-book series that sold millions of copies. Stratemeyer founded the Stratemeyer Syndicate expressly to produce new series like The Rover Boys. He would pay writers fixed fees to write books based on his outlines. By the end of the twentieth century, Stratemeyer’s books had sold billions of copies and spawned multiple imitators.

Keene_Nancy_Drew_Tapping_HeelsThe Bobbsey Twins debuted in 1904. Written under the pseudonym Laura Lee Hope, the series was a runaway hit. Stratemeyer followed up with Tom Swift (1910), written under the pen name Victor Appleton. By the time The Hardy Boys series began in 1926 (written under the name Franklin Dixon), about 98% of children named a Stratemeyer Syndicate series book as their favorite. Stratemeyer had truly established a publishing empire. Nancy Drew debuted four years later–and originally outsold The Hardy Boys.

Many of Stratemeyer’s series remain popular among children even today. They’re also favorites among collectors of children’s books because they evoke such nostalgia. Because the books were so popular, they were frequently reissued, but without changes to the copyright or edition information. Some were even updated to keep up with technological advances–again, often without any updated edition information. It’s difficult, then, to identify true first editions. While there are detailed bibliographies for Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and Judy Bolton, little information is available on most other series. Collectors should only purchase books from these kinds of series if the seller cites the appropriate bibliography in the description.

Appleton_Tom_Swift_Sky_TrainIf you’re interested in collecting a particular series, don’t let the lack of bibliographic information dissuade you! Enthusiasts find collecting serial fiction particularly satisfying because the ideal contents of the collection are already well defined; the pursuit especially appeals to completists, who are often interested in building a collection whose value as a whole is more than merely the sum of its parts. A common approach is to assemble an entire set without regard to edition. Then you can work toward replacing less desirable editions as you become more confident and knowledgeable.


Collecting Antiquarian Diaries, Journals, and Correspondence

In this age of electronic communication, the practice of keeping a journal or diary has largely fallen by the wayside, as has the art of letter writing. But in past centuries, keeping a diary was the only means of creating a written record of one’s life, the only way to look back at one’s personal past. In bygone days, farmers may have recorded observations about crops, livestock, and weather in a journal. Soldiers recorded strife,while ordinary men and women simply recorded the simple details of their daily lives. And written correspondence was the primary method for maintaining long-distance relationships.

Looking back at these documents can give us tremendous insight into the aspects of life that history books often omit. They may reveal facts about the diet, customs, or etiquette of the time period. They sometimes shed light on genealogy and local history. Journals and correspondence may even reveal the real motivations behind historic events or explain the nuanced relationships among important individuals.

Tips for Collecting Diaries, Journals, and Correspondence

For many collectors, diaries and journals are appealing because each volume is an absolutely unique manuscript. Such a document is quite a treasure, indeed. Collectors should keep a few tips and hints in mind.

  • Look for complete sets, rather than individual volumes of journals and diaries. Faithful diarists will often have produced a number of volumes over the course of their lifetimes. Stay away from individual volumes that have most likely been removed from a set.
  • Decide whether you’ll digitize your collection. This will require the assistance of a skilled archivist or conservator. Digitizing these items is an investment, but it will enhance your ability to enjoy the content of your collection–and to share it with scholars if the content proves significant.
  • Be gentle! Old paper can be quite brittle, while covers may be fragile. Handle them with care, and consider professional conservation or preservation to extend the life of your collection.
  • Don’t overlook ephemera. Journals frequently contain extra items, which can range from dried flowers to vacation souvenirs. These items damage the pages on either side. A conservator may recommend carefully documenting each item’s location and storing it separately in an archival envelope.
  • If correspondence is still contained in the original envelopes, consult a conservator about the best means to preserve both the envelopes and the letters inside. Chemical interactions between materials–even between two sheets of the same or similar papers–can hasten breakdown.

A Selection of Diaries and Journals

Journal Across the Atlantic

Journal_Across_AtlanticOriginal mss journals such as this are quite rare in commerce. An unidentified male passenger recorded the details of his 1785 transatlantic journey from London to Philadelphia. He records the names and nationalities of the crew and passengers, along with the daily minutiae of life aboard the ship. Events include the sighting of a “grampus whale,” an encounter with a Spanish ship, and a lively debate over how moths and butterflies came to be aboard the ship. Details>>

Notes from Lectures of Professor Alonzo Clarke for 1848-1849

Almon Mitchell Orcutt attended the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York. The first 136 pages of his journal consist of notes he took during the lectures of Alonzo Clarke, a noted physician and professor at the college. Clarke was often quoted in medical journals and association reports. He famously said, “All of our curative agents are poisons; and, as a consequence, every dose diminishes the vitality.” He was correct, indeed, given the “medicines” and treatments commonly used at the time. John Harvey Kellogg quotes Clarke in his Home Hand-Book of Domestic Hygiene (volume 2, 1880) in a discussion of the smallpox vaccination. Orcutt’s notes include the semester’s lectures, while the last 68 pages contain financial records. Details>>

Department of the Interior, US Geological Survey

US_Geological_Survey_Notes_JournalThis workbook started out as a record of levels and other data, kept by Allen T Paine, the survey crew levelman. But Paine also used the book as a photo journal. Many of the photographs are captioned. While many show family, friends, and colleagues, a good number also document the buildings of Concord, New Hampshire, along with the survey crew’s work and environs. Details>>

Family Trip Photo Diary/Journal

This period photo journal of a visit to the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco begins in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It includes 45 images, eight of which clearly depict portions of the journey to San Francisco. One image, for example, shows part of the Salt Lake; another, the Grand Canyon. Fourteen of the images have handwritten captions. Details>>

 Archive of Shuman Family Letter Correspondence, August 1862-September 1866

Shuman_Family_Correspondence_Civil_WarJohn Shuman was in his early twenties when he volunteered for service in the 88th Regiment of the Indiana Volunteers to fight for the Union in the American Civil War. His letters illustrate his confidence in the decision and that he believed the war would be short-lived. It lasted longer than Shuman expected, and he lost his life in battle, not due to wounds, but due to dysentery. The Shumans’ correspondence offers a unique snapshot of a soldier’s life during the war. Details>>

Eleven Manuscript Diaries

Manuscript_DiariesThe author of these diaries, William Antrim Flowers, was born on March 21, 1832 in Champaign County, Ohio. He begins his memoir with his birth and then goes back to the birth of his father in 1804. The memoir is a rich storehouse of family genealogy and history, following his family and relatives as they moved abou tthe Midwest in the early nineteenth century. Flowers also documents his own life, during which he worked variously as a teamster, a wagon driver, a teacher, and a dairy farmer. He saw the first McCormick reaper in 1855 and enlisted to serve in the Civil War. Flowers records descriptions of his own experiences in the war, along with a description of the 114th Colored Regiment Infantry and the 44th Colored Regiment; and the death of Abraham Lincoln. Details>>

Related Posts:
Flights of Fancy: Collecting Vintage Airline Posters
Of Sammelbands and Sheet Music
A Brief History of Broadsides


Thanks for reading! Love our blog? Subscribe via email (right sidebar) or sign up for our newsletter--you’ll never miss a post.